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Europe Shows Why Storage is So Important to Load Management

Todd Carney's picture
Writer, Freelance

Todd Carney is a graduate of Harvard Law School. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Communications. He writes on many different aspects of energy, in particular how it...

  • Member since 2021
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  • Jan 31, 2023

It is no secret that European countries have seen their grid pushed to the brink, often due to tough weather conditions or the war in Ukraine. Regardless of when these issues pass, the world is changing, and every country is trying to come up with new methods to adapt. Europe has received a lot of press for the green energy initiatives. Despite these efforts, TNW has reported that Europe is running into problems with their energy storage.

Various European nations, like the United Kingdom, have essentially wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on renewable energy because they have no storage method. So the energy is only available at select times and is not always needed then. Yet the technology still works to generate this energy, so the money spent is wasted. The limited technology that exists right now is lithium batteries. But many argue that these do not have sufficient storage capabilities.

Smaller communities have tried various initiatives, such as using sand to store energy. Amazingly, a sand filled cylinder will only lose 10 percent of the energy it stores. The Netherlands has used water to generate heat. The technology that the Netherlands uses is difficult to create and needs to be carefully monitored. But it is still a new option at least. The UK is pursuing technology that will liquefy the air and store it to generate heat. They hope to have this technology developed by 2024.

A more theoretical idea is to use gravitational forces to slow down how energy is released. This way instead of having small pockets where there is a ton of energy available, and then no energy, there would be a relatively consistent amount of energy released at all times. But even some proponents admit that this approach has its limits for now.

All of this is a central issue in load management for all societies. Load management is needed to keep a grid from failing. Usually the answer with load management is to either reduce the amount of energy used or generate new energy. In times like winter, there is only so much people can do to reduce their heating use, so new energy sources are needed. If countries want to go the renewable energy route, they are going to need to find ways to solve the storage issue. Otherwise they are wasting money and forcing people to undergo hardships.



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